Student Ambassador Blog | Serena
Mar 19, 2019, by Serena
Where did I go for externship?
So I traveled internationally for my first time! I participated in the Global Initiatives student exchange program in Australia at Griffith University for the Leadership Capstone course. I was able to develop a stronger ability to connect with people from other parts of the world, enhance my leadership qualities, and heighten my awareness of the Australian occupational therapy and occupational science cultural differences and similarities. My time was spent observing and shadowing occupational therapists specifically in the Gold Coast in settings such as acute care, emergency, community, persistent pain services, children’s hospital, geriatric, and emerging areas focusing on health and wellness.
How did I decide where to go for the externship?
The externship is so incredible because you are able to travel anywhere in the world to strengthen your understanding of OT leadership. Some of my friends like Joyce went to Ghana and others stayed within the Los Angeles area like Evan, Melissa and Goeun. The reason why I decided to go to Australia is due to my passion for health and wellness.
I have been following an occupational therapist, Mrs. Jacqueline Edser, who I admire via the Internet for over a year now. I decided to apply for the Global Initiatives externship in Australia when I noticed that Mrs. Edser was less than an hours drive from the partnered University. I immediately reached out to her and she was happy to meet! She is an Occupational Therapy member of the Australian Lifestyle Medicine (LM) Association and is currently utilizing her OT skills while delivering LM interventions to employees of the bus and train systems in Australia. She is an occupational therapy leader within the Australian country by focusing on an area of need that is at times overlooked and not staffed with an OT to address preventative healthcare needs. After learning from her, I aspire to take the leadership skills she has given me to deliver occupational therapy informed lifestyle interventions to the population in my surrounding American community.
Feb 5, 2019, by Serena
Increasing diversity within the OT profession at the Black College Expo!
What a great way to start off Black History Month! Last year I attended the 2018 Black College Expo, a couple of months ago I attended the Latino College Expo, and this past weekend I was at the 2019 Black College Expo! The annual event is held at the LA Convention Center to increase Black students’ awareness and acceptance into higher education. It was an honor and joy to be able to mentor college, high school, middle school, and even elementary school students at such a life-changing and well put on event! So many incredible memories were made today, one of which I would love to share about a very bright 4th grader I met.
Future OT: At the age of 9
As I saw a little girl approach the USC OT booth, I immediately became very excited! I mean, I wish someone would have told me about OT while I was in elementary school. I asked her, “Do you know what Occupational Therapy is?” And she replied, “No.” So I then asked, “What do you like to do?” And she said, “I like to play on my Ipad.” And I said “Well, if you were to get sick and not be able to play on your IPad then occupational therapists would help you play on your IPad”. She instantly grabbed an OT flyer and clipped an OT pin to her jacket.
After I gave her a more in depth description of OT, she left ... and then quickly came back with her dad. By the end of the conversation we had planned for her to tour USC’s Health Science Campus to learn more about OT and the various fields of healthcare at the young age of 9!
I am so grateful for events such as the Black College Expo for allowing me to have these wonderful experiences and for having USC’s Occupational Therapy and Occupational Science program in attendance. The other OTs and student ambassador present made the experience that much more special by spreading their love for OT. By attending, we were of course having a great time and helping students find their passions, while addressing AOTA’s Vision 2025 by working on one of the 5 pillars, diversity.
Looking forward to next year!
Jan 22, 2019, by Serena
This semester is my last academic semester as an OT Master’s student! The program went by so quickly. Feels like yesterday that I was at the 2017 newly admitted student reception.
In the last semester of the Entry Level Master’s Program, you are required to take a Leadership Capstone and Advanced Seminar in Occupational Science course to hone in on the foundations of OT and OS and what it means to be a leader in the field.
Additionally, you will be given the ability to select from a wide range of of electives where you can focus more on your specific areas of interest such as health and wellness, sensory integration, Spanish medical terminology, acute rehab, hand rehabilitation, motor control, and the list goes on and on. Since my passion is health promotion, behavior change, and lifestyle interventions, I have decided to enroll in Current Applications of Lifestyle Redesign, Optimal Living with Multiple Sclerosis, Therapeutic Communication, and Occupational Therapy in Primary Health Care Environments.
Besides course work, within the USC Chan division I will continue to serve as a Care Team Coordinator for the Student Run Clinic (SRC), and as a member of the Diversity, Equity, and Access (DEA) Committee. Outside the division I will continue to practice yoga, hike, and uphold my role as a member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) organization working on the behavior change sub-committee.
Balancing all of my passions and interests can be a challenge at times so what do I do to manage? I participate in a lot of energy restoring activities (i.e. yoga, hiking, meditation) and make sure that all of my extracurriculars are things that I genuinely enjoy and love doing. While in the program there are many ways that you can receive help balancing the two. For instance, the professors embed assignments that focus on helping you achieve a more balanced and healthy life. In addition, there are services (some of which are free\ that you can receive as a student where you can get one-on-one attention with an OT who specializes in helping you stay balanced: USC Kortschak Center for Learning and Creativity (KCLC) and the Occupational Therapy Faculty Practice (OTFP).
If any of these courses, extracurriculars, or services interest you, please reach out to me and I would love to tell you more about them or answer any questions you may have.
Jan 11, 2019, by Serena
Last semester seemed like a whirlwind. My academic workload consisted of 4 courses: Health Promotion and Wellness, Adulthood and Aging, Occupation-Centered Programs for the Community, and the Mental Health immersion. Apart from classwork, I also completed my Level I Fieldwork at USC’s Kortschak Center for Learning and Creativity, tabled and advocated for OT at various events such as the Latino Expo Event, and held the role as a Care Team Coordinator for the Student Run Clinic. One of my biggest accomplishments was attending two conferences. I previously mentioned the OTAC conference in Pasadena, California and I would love to tell you more about the second conference I attended: the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) conference in Indiana.
What is the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM)?
The American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) is a a healthcare association dedicated to preventing, managing, and reversing chronic diseases with lifestyle interventions. The ACLM healthcare professionals strive to place a greater emphasis on helping clients sustain healthier lifestyles such as engaging in health promoting diets, regular physical activity, adequate sleep, stress management, and avoidance of substance and drug misuse.
My top 5 reasons for attending the ACLM conference.
1. Further my education in lifestyle medicine: Attend seminars and lectures led by renowned healthcare professionals in the field of Lifestyle Medicine (LM) like Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. Colin Campbell, Dr. Dean Ornish, and Dr. Wayne Dysinger (whose wife happens to be an OT 😊).
2. Learn about and advocate for OTs role in LM: At the conference I was the only individual in the field of OT. It is an amazing feeling to be able to advocate for our profession in the growing field of LM since we are trained to address lifestyle changes with a focus on habits and routines.
3. Focus on my passion: I love being able to combine my interests with my profession.
4. Meet and connect with other healthcare professionals with the same interests: One of the highlights of the event was being surrounded by people who not only wanted to help others live a healthier and happier life but they too were practicing a healthy lifestyle. For example, all of the food at the conference was whole food plant-based and a 5k walk during the conference was built within the schedule. Talk about work life balance!
5. Gain skills to then go back home and make a change to my life and to the lives of others: I am grateful to have a roommate who is a medical student and also attended the conference. We are both passionate about helping others live a healthier life. Most importantly we realize the importance of the change first having to start with our own habits and routines.
Words of Advice
During your own OT journey, whether it be before, during, or after your academic career, I would highly suggest attending a conference related to your interests. Especially an interest where you feel OT may belong but lacks a wide presence. If you have any questions at all about ACLM and OTs involvement please feel free to contact me!
Dec 7, 2018, by Serena
This semester I was enrolled in Occupation-Centered Programs for the Community taught by Dr. Jenny Martinez. In the class I paired up with 3 of my colleagues to create a community project around a topic that interested all of us: access to preventative healthcare. We all had a specific passion for delivering client-centered care, specifically focusing on culturally appropriate interventions for the Latino and Black communities in Los Angeles.
My team and I created a proposal for our community program, which we called MORELIFE: Preventative Health Access. The proposal included all the necessary components that would be required to start a new service. Thus, over the 16 week semester, we developed a trends analysis, needs assessment, literature review, marketing plan, mock funding request, and program evaluation. At the end of the semester, we delivered a presentation to our classmates, staff, and faculty members in the USC OT program. It may seem like a lot of work because it was a lot of work (lol); however, we received continuous guidance and support from our professor, Dr. Martinez who we met with weekly and other faculty members such as Dr. Stacy Niemiec who so generously shared her experience in developing a very similar program, ¡Vivir Mi Vida!. Since undergrad, I have always wanted to create and then deliver a community project focusing on health disparities so by gaining these skills I am one HUGE step closer to implementing a program like MORELIFE into society.